Good OPSEC made harder by wired world

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The protection of critical information, or Operations Security, is everyone's job.

It can be especially challenging in today's Internet environment, where anyone can post and access unlimited information, on any topic, from virtually any wired device anywhere in the world.

What is critical information?
Critical information is information which is not classified but is sensitive, and when combined with other sensitive, non-classified information could be detrimental to our Airmen. The posting of this critical information on Web sites, blogs and Internet message forums has recently become a major vulnerability to the mission of the Air Force.

What is the threat?
The Taliban and Al-Qaeda have been reported to scour sites such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and other personal websites and blogs of military personnel in search of intelligence. In fact, according to Canadian Brig. Gen. Peter Atkinson, insurgents glean as much as 80 percent of their intelligence from postings on the internet.

How can we help?
Military members and their families are our first line of defense to prevent the enemy from accessing critical information. Everyone should practice good OPSEC.

Military members, their spouses, parents and friends should learn not to post critical information on Internet sites, blogs, e-mail or other online forums that can be accessed by anyone. However, they first must understand what items constitute critical information.

What shouldn't we talk about?
Some examples of critical information include the location of deployed Airmen, movement of Airmen (dates and timeframe), information about weapon systems, missions, exercises and changes in duty hours at specific bases. All these things are small pieces of a puzzle that when put together can reveal to our enemies our intentions or vulnerabilities. And remember, just because you saw it on the evening news does not mean it isn't critical information. You will only verify it to our adversaries if you repeat it.

For a more detailed list of the 55th Wing's critical information contact your unit OPSEC representative.

The protection of critical information is essential to mission accomplishment. By eliminating the posting of critical information on the Internet you deny the enemy, who could be located in a terrorist camp, foreign government office or any number of public Internet cafes around the world, information that could potentially harm our Airmen and mission.